Creative Activist Ai Weiwei to receive award at Pen America 2018 Litfest Gala

Ai Weiwei (2017) courtesy of Jindřich Nosek (NoJin) under CC BY-SA 4.0 license

“When human beings are scared and feel everything is exposed to the government, we will censor ourselves from free thinking. That’s dangerous for human development.” Ai Weiwei (b. 1957, China)

PEN American announced this weekend that artist Ai Weiwei (Ai Weiwei’s blog,Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009) will receive the Artistic Expression Award at the organization’s 2018 LitFest Gala in Los Angeles. Ai is renowned for making bold aesthetic statements that expose fault lines, unmask hypocrisies, and unleash empathy on a global scale. This honor comes in the wake of the razing of Ai Weiwei’s Beijing studio, including the destruction of several artworks, purportedly to make way for gentrification.


Ai Weiwei – Forever, 2018, Artz Pedregal, Mexico City courtesy of Keizers under CC BY-SA 4.0

“Ai Weiwei’s inventive, iconic, and utterly original lens on contemporary life both within and outside China have bridged the worlds of art and activism, awakening millions to the plight of refugees, government corruption, and human suffering. His dramatic, insistent, and impossible-to-forget films, artworks, and installations have jolted the art world, inspired millions, and stoked fear in the minds of governments alert to the power of creativity to spark social change,” said PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel.

“Ai Weiwei has, for decades, endured the personal price of harassment, intimidation, and constraints on his freedom in his determination to speak out and be a voice for those who cannot. Coming without warning, the demolition of his studio last weekend was a vivid reminder of the arbitrary and unpredictable exercise of power that Ai’s work has consistently exposed and contested. PEN America has been proud to stand with Ai Weiwei in his courageous posture of artistic defiance, and is honored to present him with our Artistic Expression Award this year.”

From architecture to installations, social media to documentaries, Ai Weiwei uses a wide range of mediums as expressions of new ways for his audiences to examine society and its values.

Recent exhibitions include: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors with the Public Art Fund in New York City; Ai Weiwei on Porcelain at the Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul; Maybe, Maybe Not at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem; and Ai Weiwei. Libero at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. In the fall of 2018, Ai Weiwei will open three major exhibitions in Los Angeles.

Ai currently resides and works in Berlin. He is the current Einstein Visiting Professor at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) and the 2012 Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the Human Rights Foundation. Ai’s first feature-length documentary, Human Flow, premiered at the 74th Venice Film Festival in competition.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. 






Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”

May 22 Literary Gala to Honor Stephen King and Celebrate Free Speech and the Power of Words to Bridge Divides

I thoroughly enjoyed  Stephen King on Writing, A Memoir of the Craft. Entertaining. Practical. Down to earth. Recommended.

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.” Stephen King

PEN America will honor legendary suspense writer Stephen King with the 2018 PEN America Literary Service Award at its annual Literary Gala on May 22 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. PEN America confers the Literary Service Award each year to a critically-acclaimed writer whose body of work helps us understand and interpret the human condition, engendering empathy and imagination in even the darkest hours.

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide best-sellers and many—including such classics as It, The Stand, The Dark Tower, Misery, Lisey’s Story, 11/22/63, On Writing, Under the Dome, and many more—providing the basis for major motion pictures and serving as cultural hallmarks for generations.

Among King’s many accolades are the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the 2014 National Medal of Arts presented by Barack Obama. His depictions of horror and violence have also earned him a title as one of the most banned or challenged authors in recent decades.

King is an impassioned advocate of freedom of expression, literacy, and access to information, which he and his wife Tabitha support through their philanthropy.

King’s Haven Foundation provides unique and generous support to writers and other freelancers in the arts who have suffered personal hardship.

Stephen King’s outspoken defense against encroachments on free speech and pointed public criticism of policies that infringe on this and other rights have resulted in his being blocked by President Trump on Twitter.

Can be pre-ordered HERE.

Scribner will release King’s newest novel, The Outsider, on May 22, the day of the PEN America award presentation.

“No stranger to the dark side, Stephen King has inspired us to stand up to sinister forces through his rich prose, his generous philanthropy, and his outspoken defense of free expression,” said author Andrew Solomon, president of PEN America. “Stephen has fearlessly used his bully pulpit as one of our country’s best-loved writers to speak out about the mounting threats to free expression and democracy that are endemic to our times. His vivid storytelling reaches across boundaries to captivate multitudes of readers, young and old, in this country and worldwide, across the political spectrum. He helps us all to confront our demons—whether a dancing clown or a tweeting president.”

If you are reading this post from an email subscription, you’ll have to link through to the The Poet by Day site to view it: Creative Writing Lessons: Creative Writing Tips from Stephen King.

Courtesy of Stephen King, photo credit Shane Leonard

STEPHEN KING (b. 1947) is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies.  King has published over fifty novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, and six non-fiction books. He has written around 200 short stories, most of which are in book collections. Mr. King’s Amazon page is HERE.

His novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption was the basis for the film The Shawshank Redemption widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. It was in fact voted the greatest film of all time by Empire magazine readers in “The 201 Greatest Movies of All Time” poll in March, 2006. 

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. PEN America’s mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.